Interview with Dr. Todd Compton—Part 5
[A small part is missing from recording here]
TC: …I think those Church leaders who feel that they want to cover up these problems are doing a disservice to the Church. But, again, I’m saying that I understand how difficult it is emotionally for them to deal with these issues.
TC: It’s like, they just don’t want to, emotionally, confront them. It’s very painful. And so I understand how painful it is and, at the same time, I think that 100 percent the best policy to deal with these issues, and, um…
AMS: But don’t you think…
TC: …talk about them, and… I, myself, I think the Church should have a series of discussions on problems in Mormon history that every investigator ought to…
AMS: Hear about.
TC: Yea, hear about. And, it would improve the quality of converts 100 percent, I think.
AMS: Yea, but wouldn’t it, uh, diminish the number of converts by…
TC: Yea, I think that some people would, um… Some would not join the Church, some would take longer to join the Church, you know… But I think those who would join the Church would be better converts.
AMS: Um, hum. Well, at least they’d be fully informed.
TC: Yea, and I think Jesus’ point of view is not, you know, just get millions of shallow converts. It’s to get… to work for the one who is the real convert.
AMS: Yea. Well, let’s talk about some of the various types of marriage that existed within the early Church. But before we do that, let’s talk about marriage in the LDS Church today. Do you want to explain or do you want me to do it?
TC: Um…. Go ahead.
AMS: Okay. The LDS Church today recognizes civil marriages. They don’t encourage them, but they recognize them, and I’ve never heard a leader of the Church nowadays say, you know, “if you’re married civilly you’re not married at all.” They also solemnize temple marriages, which are sealings for time and for eternity. The big difference between a civil ceremony and a temple ceremony is that you’re told that your marriage will survive death, and that in the afterlife you will continue to be husband and wife.
TC: Um, hum.
AMS: There are also sealings of deceased persons, for instance, I did a lot of temple work for my ancestors who obviously were not Mormons, and I performed sealings between grandparents and great-grandparents, and so forth. One kind of quirk of Mormon doctrine is that, if a man is widowed… If he was married for the first time in the temple, so for time and eternity, he then… His wife passes away, he may then re-marry again, for time and for eternity. Which puts him in the position of polygamy in the hereafter.
AMS: And, he can do that as many times as, you know… as happens. There are no restrictions. Whereas, a woman, if she either gets a divorce… well, no, it doesn’t work that way. If she gets a divorce, that’s different. But if a woman’s husband passes away, she may re-marry. She may even re-marry in the temple, but only for time.
AMS: So, the woman may not have many spouses sealed to her. Did I get that right?
TC: Yup, that’s how I understand it.
AMS: Okay. Now, how did it used to work? In your book, I read about celestial marriage, marriage by proxy, sealing for eternity, marriage for time… It made my head spin. Sometimes I had a hard time following which type of marriage you were talking about.
TC: Uh, huh. Well, we talked about some types of marriage already, such as polyandry and polygyny, and… So, in other words, the Church recognizes eternal polygyny – one man married to multiple women, but the Church does not recognize eternal polyandry – one woman married to multiple men.
TC: And, I think that’s the same then as it is today.
AMS: Oh, okay.
TC: So, when I talk about polyandry, I’m talking about a woman married to two men with different kinds of marriages. One of the men she’s married to with civil marriage, the other man she’s married to with eternal marriage.
AMS: Okay… But what about the women who were married within the LDS Church… Like, Zina [Huntington Jacobs] – wasn’t she married to Jacob[s] within the LDS Church?
TC: Well, she was married to Henry Jacobs, her first husband, by a Mormon. It was in Nauvoo. But, it was not an eternal sealing kind of marriage. And so, it was not recognized as eternally valid. In other words, I think that Mormons performed civil marriages, but they were still civil marriages even though Mormons performed them.
TC: And, so, when Joseph Smith married Zina, he considered the other marriage for time. Even though a Mormon performed the marriage, he considered it a time-bound marriage that was not valid in eternity.
AMS: Hum. Now, what’s this “proxy” business?
TC: Okay, proxy is a… Well, to give an example from Joseph Smith. He died, and say a plural wife who had been married to him for eternity… So, she was married to him for eternity and, if she re-married again, she would be re-married to someone only for time, because she was already married to Joseph Smith for eternity. However, when she married someone else for time, she could be sealed to this person for time in the Nauvoo temple. And that’s what mostly happened to these women, to these 33 women.
AMS: So, that’s a glorified civil ceremony.
TC: Yea, but it has no validity outside of time.
AMS: So, what’s the value…
TC: But, let me explain proxy. The husband who… the new husband stood proxy for the dead husband, as that eternal marriage was kind of re-solemnized in the Nauvoo temple. And, that’s why it’s called “proxy” marriage. He stood as a representative, or proxy, of Joseph Smith, as the wife was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in the Nauvoo temple. Because, they repeated everything in the Nauvoo temple. And then, after that happened, then the husband was sealed to the wife for time. And so it was a two-part thing. That’s why they use the word “proxy.”
AMS: So, let me re-state, to make sure I understood you correctly.
AMS: Say a woman is married to both Joseph Smith and another man. She…
TC: Okay, now we’re talking about polyandry…
AMS: Right… That’s where it gets complicated in my head. (Laughs)
AMS: Because, it’s so outside of social norms today, you know… It’s weird.
AMS: So, you’re going to have this woman who is married first to her High School sweetheart, whatever… And then, years later, she… Joseph Smith proposes and she accepts. She is then… Probably, she is married to her first husband either civilly or for time only. And she would then get married to Joseph Smith only for eternity.
AMS: Is that what they called the “celestial marriage”?
TC: Well, you know, they really didn’t have a word for polyandrous marriage. That’s a term I use. And, um… You know, it was something that they didn’t talk about a lot. Or, if they talked about it, the documents, you know, are not… in evidence.
AMS: Um, hum. No wonder.
TC: Either they’ve been destroyed, or…
TC: People are holding onto them, or…
AMS: They’ve been bought.
TC: Yea, there’s not a lot of evidence on these polyandrous marriages. We do have a really good autobiography by Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, who is one of these polyandrous wives. That’s what allowed me to figure out what I felt were the doctrinal reasons behind it. So I call it polyandrous marriages. The wife, however, continued to live with her High School sweetheart...
TC: …instead of Joseph Smith.
AMS: So, any children born of that arrangement, we wouldn’t know whose child they were.
TC: Well, um... I personally believe, and again, we don’t have exact evidence. I personally believe that the woman was living with the High School sweetheart. So, he had frequent relations with her, so I believe that, unless there’s good evidence otherwise, that the children were the children of the… I call them the “first husband,” but we can say “High School sweetheart” to keep it separate, to make it clear… However, in one of the cases there is good evidence that one of the children of one of these wives was engendered by Joseph Smith. There was an affidavit that the daughter left that was witnessed by the Assistant Historian of the Church, and the local Stake President, in which she said that the mother told her that she was the daughter of Joseph Smith.
AMS: (Sighs) It’s very complicated.
TC: And then later, after Joseph Smith’s death, then the High School sweetheart, Henry Jacobs, in the Nauvoo temple, he stood as proxy for Joseph Smith as his wife was married to Joseph Smith for eternity. And then, he…
AMS: Now, why didn’t Joseph do that when he was alive?
TC: Now, just a second, I misstated that. Let’s see… How did that happen? No, Brigham Young became the proxy husband …
AMS: But, Henry Jacobs was there, wasn’t he?
TC: Henry Jacobs stood as a witness, yes.
AMS: He was a witness, okay.
TC: But then she [Zina Huntington Jacobs] continued living… even after she was sealed to Brigham Young for time, as a proxy husband, then she continued living with Henry Jacobs for awhile. She was pregnant at the time, with a child by Henry Jacobs.
AMS: So, she was a polyandrous wife of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
AMS: And, she didn’t end her relationship with Henry Jacobs until much later.
TC: Um, until later.
TC: Yea, he was sent on a mission by Brigham Young. And, so, Zina began living with Brigham Young while Henry Jacobs was on his mission.
TC: Which is again, one of these theocratic things that I think is an excess, how that whole story played out.
AMS: Yea. Let’s take a quick break. This is the Apostate Mormon Show today with Dr. Todd Compton, and we’ll be right back.